We need more role models in society to drive a positive culture

You can’t build a reputation based on what you intend to do, or what you haven’t done yet. Character is built on achievements you have made, the relationships that you have developed and the public image established from the values that you hold dear. The saying ‘trust trust arrives on foot and departs on horseback’ reminds us that it takes years to build a good reputation but only a short time to ruin it.

Business mogul and philanthropist Manu Chandaria says that when he came back from university he tried to convince his father to give to charity but his father responded, saying that they needed to create wealth first and then give to charity. So he and his brothers put in the long hours building the business and growing the fortune. At the base of success and personal branding is competence, the ability to get things done in the right way and visible role models like Mr. Chandaria have demonstrated this over and over again. We look up to him because he shows that you can achieve anything that you want to if you just put your mind to it and he creates a spark in upcoming generations of entrepreneurs and business executives.

Role models in our society set the tone of our culture and help develop the values that will create lasting success for individuals and the nation as a whole. We therefore need more role models in Kenya and if you are one of these, please stand up and be counted. I applaud those women who were selected as the Top 40 Under 40 not only for their achievements but also because they will inspire other women to do more, work harder and dream bigger.

Achievers tend to have mentors and people that they can bounce ideas off. They say that if you want to succeed at something, seek the company of those who have already succeeded at it. More importantly you need to create the necessary relationships across your teams and the community because you can’t achieve really big things on your own, and along the way you will need help and support from others. Healthy relationships with your seniors gets you the best advice for advancement and consideration for promotion, and on the other hand an unhealthy relationship can lead to separation. For example, the guys in the rugby circles tell me that despite Mike Friday’s competence as a rugby coach his chaotic relationship with the board of the rugby union led to his dismissal before he completed his task of developing a top notch team. The relationships with your juniors is also crucial as through it you develop successors, giving you the opportunity to move up the ladder.

Beyond competence and developing relationships is perhaps the most important element and that is creating a good public image. They say that good work speaks for itself, but it has to be perceived in order to be appreciated. I like to think of public image in the way that the Arthur Page Society looks at the new model for activating corporate character and authentic advocacy. The first part talks about defining a corporate character and the second is around building advocacy at scale. Indeed good corporate culture does not happen on its own, and similarly a good public image based on progressive values doesn’t just happen. It takes reflection and introspection followed by consistency in attitude, action and behaviour.

Your image will subsequently frame the context of your competence and determine the relationships that you develop and eventually be the foundation of your personal brand. Whether you are a private person or whether you seek the lime light, its important to nurture the correct image among people you interact with. For those who are visible, that could lea to being a role model for many and adding to the narrative of great achievements through human endeavour.

We never really own anything as we are literally custodians of wealth for the next generation and the continued prosperity of our nation lies in the hands of our children. Their belief systems are a major part of what they will achieve so it is necessary that we shape their values in preparation for the responsibility that they will eventually hold. In doing so, role models play a significant role in defining a progressive culture through the work that they do, the relationship that they build and the image that they portray.


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